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Nationals launch Asia focussed ag policy

Western Australia’s farming future lies in Asia, the Minister for Agriculture and Food signalled in launching a $300 million agriculture policy last week.

Nationals MLA Terry Redman announced the five-year funding package as he started campaigning to retain his seat representing the Warren Blackwood district.

WA must overcome a number of barriers if it was to meet demand for food from the booming Asian region, Mr Redman said at Greenbushes on Friday.

More investment was needed and partnerships with Asian companies, rather than debt finance, would be vital, he said.

“We’ll be investing in trade and a new office of inward investment, not to sell the farm, but to manage any investment interest in WA,” he said.

“We’ve got no role in foreign investment but we can play a role as a shop front and link businesses to businesses.”

His party would fund market research as well as research and development and invest in land and proving up new water sources for agriculture.

Projects aiming to improve supply chains and transport infrastructure would also be funded after an audit of existing facilities, including at ports.

“This is about building a bridge from a WestAustralian farmer and producer to an Asian consumer,” he said.

“I’ve never known a time when people have been so concerned about food security in other countries that are net importers of food.

“WA is an exporter, we export 80 per cent of what we produce. Our competitive advantage is being a food supplier into those export markets.

“We are producing safe, consistent quality products into markets that haven’t had that.”

Mr Redman rejected Liberal rival Ray Colyer’s assertion that the Nationals were a “one-trick pony” relying on the Royalties for Regions scheme.

He said the scheme had allowed a significant shift in funding from the cities to the bush and had proved so popular that all the major parties had embraced it.

He pointed to fuel card subsidies, a new 24-hour doctor service at Manjimup, and the SuperTowns project as examples of its success.

“The Nationals’ and Terry Redman’s commitment to this electorate is to ensure we secure Royalties for Regions into another term of government and go on building regional communities,” he said.

Source: Karen Hunt, Manjimup-Bridgetown Times http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/business/a/-/wa/16025824/nationals-policy-for-agriculture-to-supply-asia/